Pharmacy World & Science

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 362–372 | Cite as

Classification of drug-related problems with new prescriptions using a modified PCNE classification system

  • Patrick M. Eichenberger
  • Markus L. Lampert
  • Irene Vogel Kahmann
  • J. W. Foppe van Mil
  • Kurt E. HersbergerEmail author
Research Article


Objectives To explore and classify drug-related problems (DRPs) with new prescriptions detected in community pharmacies using a modified PCNE (Pharmaceutical Care Network Europe) classification system. Setting Sixty-four Swiss community pharmacies offering internships for pharmacy students. Main outcome measures Occurrence, nature and pharmacist’s management of DRPs. Methods Fifth-year pharmacy students collected consecutively hospital discharge and primary care prescriptions. After training, they documented clinical and technical DRPs, causes and interventions. Results Prescriptions of 616 patients (43.0% discharged from hospital) were analysed. The patients’ median age was 56 years and they received a median of 3 (range 2–19) different drugs. In 121 (19.6%) prescriptions 141 clinical DRPs were detected. The most frequent clinical DRPs were potential drug–drug interactions (DDIs) (37.6%), drug choice (24.8%) and drug use problems (15.6%). These clinical DRPs led to a total of 299 interventions. There were 222 prescriptions (36.0%) that showed 278 technical DRPs, resulting in a total of 417 interventions. Most frequent technical DRPs were missing or unclear package size or therapy duration (32.7%) and missing or unclear dosing/application instructions (30.9%). Most DRPs (75.4%) could be managed by the pharmacist alone. The number of prescribed drugs was the main factor with an influence on the frequency of clinical and technical DRPs. Conclusion Clinical and technical DRPs are frequently observed in primary care as well as in hospital discharge prescriptions. The modified PCNE classification system, especially the amendment with a technical DRP category, proved to be useful and allowed the classification of all DRPs. Neither the setting (hospital discharge vs. primary care) nor the quality of electronically printed prescriptions, but only the number of prescribed drugs influenced the occurrence of clinical or technical DRPs.


Classification system Community pharmacy Drug-related problems Hospital discharge PCNE Pharmaceutical care Primary care Switzerland 



We would like to thank the owners of the 64 participating pharmacies and Michael Mittag for the support in statistical analysis.


No funding was provided for this Ph.D. student research.

Conflicts of Interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick M. Eichenberger
    • 1
  • Markus L. Lampert
    • 2
  • Irene Vogel Kahmann
    • 3
  • J. W. Foppe van Mil
    • 4
  • Kurt E. Hersberger
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Pharmaceutical Care Research GroupUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Clinical and Hospital PharmacyCantonal Hospital BruderholzBruderholzSwitzerland
  3. 3.Clinical and Hospital PharmacyCantonal Hospital SchaffhausenSchaffhausenSwitzerland
  4. 4.van Mil ConsultancyZuidlarenNetherlands

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